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Jar Goods sees marketing potential in mid-tier sauce category

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By Elizabeth Crawford


Jar Goods sees marketing potential in mid-tier sauce category

In the highly-saturated pasta and pizza sauce categories, startup Jar Goods still see significant opportunity not in the polarized ends of the spectrum that promise either mass market convenience or premium specialty goods, but in the middle where quality and convenience meet. 

“We make ultra-premium, ready-to-cook pantry staples in the void between mass and specialty,” Melissa Vitelli, who co-founded Jar Goods, told potential investors at a demo day hosted by the Chobani incubator at Natural Products Expo West.

She explained that Jar Goods fills an unmet need between specialty foods made from “intimidating ingredients” that are “high maintenance and gather dust in your pantry while you figure out how to use them,” and mass market products that offer convenience and affordability, but are “not delicious” and have “uninspired branding” or “contain questionable ingredients.”

The young company does this by prioritizing three things, Vitelli said.

Quality, convenience and customer service

“First, quality. Our products are exceptionally delicious, and they are clean label,” Vitelli said. “Secondly, we prioritize convenience – our products are approachable and versatile and you can use them to make many different dishes,” and third, “we prioritize our customers.”

The company achieves this last point by being “about helping our consumers get dinner on the table easier, faster and happier,” rather than “about making Grandma’s recipe famous or what is the coolest, trendiest or cheapest” ingredient, she said.

The company’s current line of three tomato sauces are made from 72% tomatoes and other ultra-premium ingredients that helped catch Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert’s attention and earned from him a score of 92 for the Classic Spicy SKU.

Fast growth without marketing

Since launching in September 2015, the brand has earned shelf space in 800 stores and reached a velocity of two units per SKU per store per week “simply by being on the shelf,” Vitelli said.

She added that this was achieved with few funds available for marketing, so just “imagine what we could do with a marketing budget!”

Fundraising for the future

To that end, the company is currently raising a $750,000 convertible note that it plans to use in part to hire sales staff to continue opening doors and engage with shopper marketing to drive more velocity.

The startup also has an ambitious R&D effort that includes the creation of four more SKUs that were showcased at Expo Wes, including a vegan vodka sauce, cacciatore sauce, purple pesto and black tapenade, with additional products in development.

Finally, as the company executes these strategies, it expects sales in 2017 to reach $1.3 million and is projecting even higher sales of $6.7 million in 2018 and $18.1 million in 2019.

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